Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Preview, Picks + Predictions Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week

Fresh off of a week where nothing could stop Billy Ho’s “Mo,” the PGA Tour heads to the Tarheel state for one of the top non-major tourneys of the year, The Wells Fargo Championship.  The host course is Quail Hollow Golf Club, which consistently ranks among Tour player favorites and is one of the most visually appealing we see all season. It’s no wonder that the course was chosen to host the 2017 PGA Championship, one of the most highly prestigious honors that any track could receive.

As part of that prep for the upcoming PGA Championship, several holes were lengthened and the 12th green’s undulations were considerably flattened since last year’s event.  The course now plays a stout 7,492 yards, which coupled with some of the toughest fairways to hit on Tour (47.6% driving accuracy last year, 3rd toughest on Tour) and its infamous finish, “The Green Mile,” it’s a very stern test of golf.   Following this year’s tourney, the greens will be ripped up and converted to bentgrass for further PGA Championship prep.

This year’s tourney again boasts a star-studded field, including the likes of Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Nick Watney, defending champion Rickie Fowler and many more.  Basically the only top name not competing this week is world #1 Tiger Woods (who missed the cut here each of the past two seasons).

Now, on to some picks:

LOCKZILLAS: (Last week: Rose t-15th,  F Jacobson WD on Wed)

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood
– Quail Hollow requires extreme accuracy off of the tee and that’s what Westy does best.  Throw in the fact that he posted top 10s in each of his past two starts, including t-8th at the Masters, coupled with his t-5th here last year and I expect a solid showing from Lee.

Nick Watney
Nick Watney
– How’d you like to shoot four consecutive rounds of 3-under 69 and never seriously contend for the week?  Well, that’s exactly what the Nickster did last week in New Orleans on his way to a cozy t-15th.  I’ll take that solid play coming in this week, especially considering that he has six top 25s here in eight appearances, including solo 8th last year after leading at the halfway mark.

SEMI-FLIERS: (Last week: de Jonge MC, Overton t-42nd)

Kevin Streelman
Kevin Streelman
– Despite the fact that Streels is 0fer in his career in cuts made at this event (0 for 3), he’s simply playing too well for that rough past history to even matter (he hasn’t played here since ’10 anyway).  Streels won in March at the Tampa Bay Championship and finished t-3rd at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in his last start and is primed to keep that momentum going in Charlotte this week.

Brendon de Jonge
Brendon de Jonge
– Yep, third week in a row I’ve picked him now (t-9th at Harbour Town, MC at Zurich Classic).  Brendon is a Charlotte native and counts down to this tournament each and every year, which may add some additional pressure, but also brings him some good vibes as he’s never missed the cut here and finished solo 4th here in ’10.  The man simply makes way too many birdies (led Tour in total birdies last year, and is third overall this year with 188 total).  He WILL win out here sooner than later, here’s to hoping this is his week.

HOSEL-ROCKETS: (Last week: Bubba backdoor t-15th, Guan 71st)

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
– I know what you’re thinking- Rory is a past champion here, lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler last year and loves this place.  Well, all true statements, except that this isn’t the same Rory.  An over-emphasis on adding bulk to his wiry frame coupled with the highly publicized offseason equipment change to Nike has had Rory airmailing greens, racing 6-footers by the cup and hitting pull snipes off the tee all season long.  Rory WILL figure his game out and will win this season on Tour, but he’s not ready yet folks.  Wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever to see an MC from Rors this week.

Hunter Mahan
Hunter Mahan
– What on Earth has happened to Hunter?  His last 8 rounds on Tour have gone exactly like this: 75,74,71,76,82,68,76,78….quite abysmal from a top 25 player in the world, and especially surprising consider that he posted five consecutive top 16s in the early part of the year.  Call it swing flaws, mental issues or what have you, even though Hunter is a great driver of the golf ball, Quail Hollow is one of the last venues a player wants to travel to when struggling with their games.  Stay away from Hunter and his scruffiness this week.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK: (Last week: Peterson t-8th)

Robert Karlsson
Robert Karlsson
– I’m quite proud of my t-8th pick with John Peterson from last week, not gonna lie.  This week’s pick is about as bold as BOLD gets, as Karlsson has missed three of his past four cuts and doesn’t have a top 10 on Tour since the 2011 PGA Championship!  Yowza.  Karlsson possesses world class talent, and although he’s been in an extended funk, the Tour coming to his home course (he moved to Charlotte a couple years back) might be just what the tall Swede needs to rediscover some confidence in his game.  Give RK a shot this week and thank me later.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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